In the past few weeks, I have previewed running backs, wide receivers and tight ends as we prepare for the NFL and fantasy football season. There is a lot of important information in these columns, so I encourage you to circle back and read them. There are two parts on running backs, two parts on wide receivers and one part on tight ends. This brings me to the final preview – quarterbacks. Quarterbacks are last and least most important to your success.
The reason I say least is because I don’t I believe quarterbacks are important to your success – unless you overpay for them. For instance, if you use a third-round pick on Josh Allen, you may have just cost yourself a shot at your league championship. If you draft Kyler Murray in the fourth-round pick, you have made a big mistake. I’m not saying these quarterbacks will have a bad season. What I’m telling you is that you are overpaying for a quarterback.
The reason why I am so emphatic about not overpaying for a quarterback in fantasy is the opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is defined as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when a certain alternative is chosen. If you draft Allen in the third round, you are passing on the likes of D’Andre Swift, CeeDee Lamb, Allen Robinson and Chris Carson. You might even have missed out on Terry McLaurin and David Montgomery, who might still be on the board.
In discussing the subject of overpaying for quarterbacks, I have intentionally skipped over Patrick Mahomes, who will be the first quarterback off the board. Mahomes is an outlier in this discussion. If Mahomes was still on the board in the third round, I might take him there. But I know he will be gone by then. In 2020, Mahomes completed a career-high 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,740 and 38 touchdowns. He added 308 yards and two touchdowns with his legs.
I drafted Josh Allen in the 10th round on one of my teams last year, and he helped me win a league championship. He was valuable because I didn’t have to pass on a plethora of good fantasy players to get him. The same could not be said if I were to select him this year. A similar example would be Lamar Jackson. In 2019, using a late-round pick to take Jackson was savvy. But in 2020, taking him in the second, or even in the third round was nothing less than foolish.
You can spot a novice fantasy football player when he gets excited about drafting a quarterback. The seasoned player knows not to take a quarterback early in the draft. Granted, Allen, Murray, Jackson, and even Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have a higher upside than other quarterbacks. But quarterback is a deep position, and you can get a good fantasy quarterback in the later rounds. I have never taken a quarterback earlier than the 10th round in a draft.
As you can tell, I am a strong proponent of the Late Round Quarterback strategy. Last year, in my home league, I took my quarterback in the 12th round, my running back handcuff in the 13th, my defense in the 14th and my kicker in the 15th. And I will readily drop everyone except the handcuff when bye weeks, or matchups dictate. Do you understand how freeing this is? There is never the need for me to pick up a second quarterback, and this frees up a roster spot for RBs and WRs.
Okay, if you’re not convinced about taking your quarterback in the late rounds, you can stop reading this column. There are plenty of other quarterback previews that will provide coverage on Mahomes, Allen, Murray, Jackson, Prescott, Rodgers and Tom Brady. Again, I’m not going on the record to say that any of these quarterbacks are bad. All of them are capable of producing good fantasy numbers. But here are six QBs to consider with an ADP greater than 80 according to NFFC.
MATTHEW STAFFORD, LA RAMS, ADP 83
Stafford had an ADP above 100 heading into last year’s draft. But this is a new era for the former Lions quarterback. The Rams spent a lot of draft capital during the offseason to bring Stafford to Los Angeles, and he is set up for a career year. Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Playing for dismal Detroit, he was QB 5, QB 10, QB6, QB17, QB9, QB7, QB6, QB20, QB29 and QB15 over the last ten years. With his weapons in LA, he should be lock for a top-10 finish in 2021.
JALEN HURTS, PHILADELPHIA, ADP 91
There is no more divisive late-round quarterback than Hurts, who seems to have an equal number of advocates and detractors. I find myself on the fence. Consider his 52% completion rate and 6:4 TD to INT ratio. On the other hand, consider Hurts scored 20, 43 and 19 fantasy points in his first three starts after taking over from Carson Wentz. He was on pace for 4,517 passing yards, 27 and 11 interceptions. And he was on pace for 1,269 rushing yards and five touchdowns over 16 games.
JOE BURROW, NY GIANTS, ADP 99
Burrow is another quarterback available later in the draft with top-five upside but plenty of risk. The second-year QB has one of the most talented receiving corps in football, and it’s likely that Cincinnati will be playing from behind a lot. But his inexperience and recovery from a torn ACL are risk factors. Burrow was on pace for 4,400 passing yards in his nine complete games, but his touchdown rate (3.2%) hurt his fantasy value. I drafted Burrow with the 107th pick in a recent draft.
TREVOR LAWRENCE, JACKSONVILLE, ADP 120
If you are willing to embrace the Late Round Quarterback strategy, consider a quarterback who will be available two round later than Burrow. Lawrence enters the league with hype, ending his Clemson college career with 10,098 passing yards, 90 TDs and only 17 interceptions. The Jaguars earned the right to take him No. 1 overall after going 1-15 last year. Lawrence will have some weapons to throw to in Jacksonville, but rookies don’t often make good fantasy quarterbacks.
MATT RYAN, ATLANTA, ADP 127
Ryan is going even later in the draft than Lawrence, and track record would indicate an ADP of 127 is good value for him. He’s been a good fantasy producer for the past few years, but he’s put up big numbers based on high volume. And he had Julio Jones as his WR1. Jones is now in Tennessee, and the Titans former offensive coordinator is the head coach in Atlanta. It’s safe to bet that the passing volume
Will come down, and this is the reason why Ryan’s ADP is so high.
JUSTIN FIELDS, CHICAGO ADP 139
Are you looking for the next Patrick Mahomes? I’m not saying Fields is it, but there are some analysts who are convinced he’s the real deal. Fields showed me in the first Bears preseason game that he has the potential to be something special. He won’t start the first game, and I don’t know when we’re going to see him on the field as a starter. But he has top-five fantasy upside.
I am not comfortable drafting any of these quarterbacks, but I could see myself adding one or more of them as streamer options throughout the season. Note: Deshaun Watson is QB24 and is unlikely to play this season. If he were cleared to play, he would be the steal of the draft. Baker Mayfield, QB17; Kirk Cousins, QB18; Ben Roethlisberger, QB19; Trey Lance, QB20; Jameis Winston, QB21; Tua Tagovailoa, QB22; Derek Carr, QB23; Watson, QB24; Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB25.
You can follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.